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  • ‘Exotic and quoted: red gold’

    Let’s speak about saffron, a crop that can not be considered as an agricultural product more but as part of the historical and cultural heritage of the province of Ciudad Real and by extension of Castilla-La Mancha (Spain), to be protected and preserved . Talk of saffron and the peculiarities of a product, concentrated in the region of La Mancha, which makes the Castilla-la Mancha region the one that use the greater extent of ground to produce saffron (about 380 villages and engage in it about 420 farmers), followed by Aragon, Valencia and Murcia, and stands as the largest exporter. Saffron was introduced in Spain during the Arab domination and between the seventh and ninth centuries became a product monopolized by the gentry Andalusí. In the first third of the nineteenth century La Mancha was producing the best quality saffron from Spain, reaching the highest yields per hectare of dry land. Nowadays DO La Mancha Saffron collects around 1,000 kilos. It immemorial cultivation is abundantly documented in Pedro Muñoz, Campo de Criptana or Manzanares. Planting bulbs is traditionally from the second half of June to the first of September. When the saffron blossom is collected daily all open flowers before they wilt (the ideal moment from 11.00), for a period of approximately thirty days between the months of October and November generally, depending on conditions climate of the agricultural year in question. In addition, the cut flower, delicate, and beautiful mauve, requires great skill, as it has to be fast and precise to prevent the stigmata (the three strands of deep red) could separate or come off. The harvest of saffron and subsequent peeling and roasting of the strands are usually carried out in the household of the farmer, and with the cooperation of neighbours, which do this work in exchange for some amount of this precious spice . Arranged in the houses on large tables, they cleverly hold the flower between the index finger and thumb for using the other hand to extract the appreciated strands. The "red gold" is in vogue, and today is a globally valued product. This is attested by the sale price for the farmer, who are advised not to sell below 2,400 euros a kilo.